Football / World Cup USA '94: Blatter rules on red cards for foul play

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FIFA, football's world governing body, yesterday clarified confusion over which tackles from behind warranted a red card. Sepp Blatter, the general secretary, dismissed suggestions that referees were not following their instructions to send off players who had committed the foul.

'So far, we are satisfied with the way the referees apply our instructions, and also the linesmen,' Blatter said. He clarified pre-tournament explanations of the type of tackle from behind that would lead to dismissal, saying a red card would only be issued if the tackling player had no realistic chance of winning the ball. Fifa had said any tackle from behind that was considered violent would lead to a dismissal. The Fifa president, Joao Havelange, said four days before the finals that any referee who did not show a red card for the offence would be sent home.

Blatter also said that a tackle from behind would mean an automatic sending-off. But yesterday he said: 'If the tackling player does not touch the ball, then he should be sent off. If he takes the ball away then, obviously, he has played the ball. We have shown the referees a lot of examples of what we mean, where there was not a chance for the player to win the ball, especially with sliding tackles at the man with the ball.'

The Mexican referee, Arturo Brizio, who sent off the Bolivian Marco Etcheverry and booked four other players in Germany's opening 1-0 victory against the South Americans, has received the full support of Fifa. The Fifa spokesman, Guido Tognoni, said: 'We think he did well - even the Colombian player who was sent off apologised afterwards.'

The Spanish captain, Miguel Angel Nadal, who was also sent off in his team's opening World Cup match, and Etcheverry were both suspended for two matches by Fifa's disciplinary committee yesterday. The ban means both players will miss their remaining two first-round group matches. Both countries were fined 5,000 Swiss francs (pounds 2,300) the minimum fine for having a player dismissed.

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